Just when the Knights’ schedule should soften up, UCF opens conference play at home against the Pirates of East Carolina in Week Five.
What to look for
The Pirates boasted the nation’s 20th-ranked passing attack despite their 5-7 record in 2011. The signal caller of that unit was Dominique Davis, who is now an Atlanta Falcon. This leaves a huge hole for the Pirates to fill.
Much like UCF, quarterback play will determine the success of the Pirates, with an unproven starter set to take the reins. ECU was ranked 105th in the nation on the ground, though it does return its two lead running backs from 2011 in Torrance Hunt and Reggie Bullock, so some continuity may improve an otherwise paltry run game.
Aside from Game One, this could be the first game that the Knights are favored to win, thus the first game where the Knights will have some expectations. ECU is no slouch of a team, though, as it did beat UCF last season, 38-31, in a thriller.
In last season’s meeting, ECU gashed the Knights on the ground, amassing 186 yards. Then, back-up quarterback Blake Bortles took the reins from Jeff Godfrey early on, leading UCF on a comeback. Bortles threw two touchdowns in the game, one to Josh Reese and the other to J.J. Worton.
Expect a high-scoring game similar to last season’s showdown. Look for Bortles and the passing game to develop an early rhythm and to put up big numbers. The difference in this game will be on the defensive side. UCF features a much better defense than the Pirates, which could end up being the deciding factor in the game.
UCF should have a much more capable passing attack than it did last season, so expect the Knights to attack through the air early on and go to the running game as the game progresses.